PhD project: Electrostatics in Soft Matter

Project description

Modelling the electrostatic behaviour of even a simple fluid such as water is non-trivial, as electric fields are coupled to ion concentrations, electric currents and flow. Complex fluids like liquid crystals or oil-in-water emulsion present further challenges, and require the development of novel theoretical and computational techniques. At Edinburgh, we have developed computational methods which solve the full set of coupled, nonlinear equations (Navier-Stokes, Nernst-Planck and Poisson) in such complex fluids and allow us to model these systems on a consistent basis and at very large length and long time scales. 

The aim of this project will be to build on this research to model the role of electrostatics in a wide range of multicomponent systems that are the focus of continuing experimental and computational research at Edinburgh. Topics for study include: the effect of surface charges on the flow of emulsions [1]; the impact of currents on a class of specialized bicontinuous materials (bijels) developed for battery applications [2, 3]; or the complex behaviour of anisotropic fluids like liquid crystals in electric fields [4]. Throughout the project there will be opportunities for close collaboration with experimentalists and theorists at the Edinburgh Soft Matter Group, computational scientists and high-performance computing experts at the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC), and to work on industrial projects through the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership (ECFP)

[1] Hermes & Clegg, Soft Matter 9, 7568 (2013).

[2] Herzig et al., Nature materials 6, 966 (2007).

[3] Stratford et al., Science 309, 2198 (2005).

[4] Dubois-Violette, De Gennes & Parodi, Journal de Physique 32, 305 (1971).

Project supervisor

  • (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)

The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.

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